Emily became determined to provide succinct, helpful personal finance information to young women after experiencing her own financial troubles. We spoke with her to learn more about long-term financial planning as well as the importance of structuring your spending around a budget and investing.
Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?
A: I’m currently a Product Manager for a small fintech startup based in Atlanta.
I first really piqued an interest in finance when I had a bad healthcare experience, regarding billing, and I ended up having to pay an exorbitant amount of money. I was in grad school for my Master’s in Public Health at the time, so I became fixated on finding a solution for healthcare billing. I burst into my professor’s office hours one day with a business plan for my own company that was going to work in the finance healthcare space, and she kindly did not laugh at me, but helped connect me to my current company. After that, I ended up taking a bunch of finance and entrepreneurship classes in my university’s business school and I was totally hooked. But I didn’t get really into personal finance until a few months later when I was really trying to plan out my own life and realizing I had some pretty hefty student loans to pay back
Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?
A: The biggest challenge for me – and it coincides with why I started @sometimessensible – is I had difficulty finding relatable information that I actually wanted to read.
There’s really no shortage of financial information on the Internet. There is an onslaught out there and it’s really overwhelming. But frankly it can be super boring, and as a young woman it was all written by older men who didn’t understand my personal situation. It just wasn’t written in a way that I could relate to.
Now I think my biggest problem is remembering that personal finance is actually personal. There are so many people, in so many different situations, that it’s really easy to compare my journey to theirs and get disappointed. For example, with my big, very scary student loans, it can be hard to not feel left behind. The biggest skill that I had to learn was learning to take what works for me and leave what doesn’t.
Q: If you could give advice to your 18 year old self about managing your money, what would you tell yourself and why?
A: The best advice that could give my younger self is to think long-term. I didn’t have a huge spending issue or was constantly shopping. My problem was that I was supporting myself, working three jobs through college and just trying to get by.
I wish I had a little bit more of a long-term lens with my money; deciding how much to take out in student loans or making a big purchase or even learning to invest earlier than I did.
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?
A: I tell my coaching clients to stop thinking their budget is a bad thing. Sometimes I honestly tell them to stop calling it a budget if they really have like a mindset block with it.
A large part of finance is your socioeconomics and the opportunities you are given, but there is also a huge part of it that really is your mindset. I’ve found that thinking of your“budget”as a prioritized spending plan is one way to shift that mindset.
For example, don’t look to cut down on everything. Instead cut out the stuff that doesn’t matter that much to you and keep the things that do! For me that’s really manifested in always giving myself fun money and wiggle room. If you make your budget too restrictive you will never stick to it. I have seen so many clients burnout on budgeting altogether because
Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?
A: The biggest bucket is learning to invest. I say that because to me financial independence is being work optional which gives me the ability to walk away from any situation that doesn’t serve me. For me that level of financial independence is really only going to be achieved through investing. Plus, I think it’s the easiest and laziest way that you can reach financial independence!
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: One of the biggest things I like to mention when talking about financial literacy is the 80% rule.
You don’t have to know everything to get started, getting 80% of the way there and making a few mistakes is way better than just not doing anything.
For example, when I first started investing I was really worried about not understanding every tax implication and it stopped me from starting for years. In reality I didn’t need to, I only needed to know 80% of it and then just start moving and figure the rest out along the way! Which is exactly what ended up happening a few years later.
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